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His name is Veronza Bowers Jr., a former member and captain of the original Black Panther Party. After more than 44 years in prison, 14 years beyond his mandatory release date, Veronza has faith that with his Freedom Team of top lawyers and the love of multitudes of supporters around the world, he will win his freedom soon. Political prisoners are kept in prison when the “law enforcers” they opposed decades ago carry grudges they pass down the generations, vowing those prisoners will die in prison. But the words of little Pharoah Dawson, who wrote, “Veronza, don’t die in prison!” are more powerful.
As I complete this column, the situation in our continental African nation of Zimbabwe is growing evermore intense. Our Elder, Baba, Freedom Fighter and President Robert Mugabe has been forced to “resign” – and removed from his democratically-elected office by that nation’s military and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) leaders – in an apparent coup.
I would like to propose it is time to organize a new international campaign to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate a formal investigation. This investigation would be based on discovering U.S. human rights violations as they pertain to our long-held political prisoners. I am proposing this campaign be organized under the slogan of “In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela,” as it is believed this slogan will resonate with progressives around the world. It will inspire them in international solidarity to join our efforts to persuade the U.N. International Jurists to initiate this call for a needed investigation.
Greetings of imani (faith), esteemed G-o-ds, May our Divine Creator of and in all – and beloved ancestors from yesteryear and yesterday – find you and (y)our extended family in healing spirit. Asé. Amen. We joyously welcome and fully support Baba Troy Williams as the new editor of our San Francisco Bay View (SFBV) newspaper. Baba Troy brings a wealth of valuable experience in uplifting community members and skills in developing innovative media, from inside and outside the prison walls.
In the national debate ensuing from Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” some have not given credit to Angela Davis forging national interest in prison abolition with her organizing Critical Resistance campaigns across the country. With the nominal success of the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike in California, we recognize that when we organize a national determination, we can collectively force institutional change.
The next screening of the Black Riders documentary, ‘Let Um Hear Ya Coming,’ is Thursday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. The event also features the Conscious Roots Music Showcase, with performances by E Da Ref, Askari Mwari, Jah Wave, Fly Benzo and Ms. Incredible, Audiomatic, DJ 8 and DJ Cuba.
Jalil Mutaqim, one of the longest held political prisoners in the U.S., was once again denied parole on Nov. 18, 2009. Visit FreeJalil.com to learn more about this extraordinary, heroic brother, who traded a minor plea for the freedom from all charges of four of his San Francisco 8 comrades. Support must grow so that his next parole date, in June 2010, is successful and he is free to return to the loving arms of his family and to continue to teach and show us how to be our own liberators.
What was amazing about the hearing Monday was the prosecution’s admission that it didn’t have enough evidence to convict these men. As attorney Daro Inouye said of Jalil Muntaqim, who pled no contest to the prosecution’s charge of conspiracy, his client picked up a loaded grenade to save his brothers, his friends, his fellow defendants, and he didn’t plead guilty. That language did not pass his lips.